Powdered turmeric root is perhaps best known as a popular spice, frequntly used in Eastern cooking. It is an ingredient of curry powders, and is also used to give mustard its characteristic color. It is sometimes used as a substitute for saffron . The addition of turmeric to such oils as olive or sesame oil extends their shelf life due to its antioxidant properties. In addition, some orange and lemon drinks are now colored with turmeric, which is considered safer than artificial colorings derived from coal tar.
The powdered root of turmeric has been used for making a deep yellow dye for fabrics for hundreds of years, though it does not produce an enduring color-fast tint. It is also used as a coloring for medicines at times.
Some studies have demonstrated that turmeric exhibits anti-inflammatory properties that are useful in the treatment of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis . Alcohol extracts of turmeric have been found to reduce blood sugar, which could eventually affect the treatment of diabetes. In addiion, clinical trials in China have demonstrated that simply using turmeric as a food seasoning can reduce serum cholesterol levels . The World Health Organization has recommended the use of this spice.